“THE FIRST JEWISH LEARNED ASSOCIATION IN THE NEW WORLD”: RARE FIRST EDITION OF THE CONSTITUTION AND BY-LAWS OF THE AMERICAN JEWISH SOCIETY, 1845, FOUNDED BY RABBI ISAAC LEESER, IN FRAGILE ORIGINAL WRAPPERS
JUDAICA (LEESER, Isaac). Constitution and By-Laws of the American Jewish Publication Society. Philadelphia: C. Sherman, 5606 . Small octavo (4-1/2 by 7 inches), original pale rose plain wrappers, stitched as issued; pp. 11. $1200.
First edition of the 1845 Constitution and By-Laws of Rabbi Isaac Leeser’s groundbreaking American Jewish Publication Society, foundational predecessor to the 1888 formation of the Jewish Publication Society, a pivotal document in American Jewish history, in original wrappers.
“The first Jewish learned association in the New World was the American Jewish Publication Society [AJPS], founded at Philadelphia in 1845 by Rabbi Isaac Leeser” (Jewish Encyclopedia). Leeser noted: “It has long since appeared to us that Jewish literature might find a secure abode in the United States, by enlisting all Israelites to take an active interest in its growth A threefold object would be thereby secured; first the encouragement of reading among Israelites; secondly, the supplying of good books to those who cannot afford to buy them; and thirdly to incite Jewish talent to devote itself to the development of subjects connected with our religion and history” (Occident). A fire destroyed its building and entire stock in 1851, and “the second was founded by a New York group and lasted from 1873 to 1875. The third effort, responding to the needs of a rapidly growing Jewish population” was renamed Jewish Publication Society in 1888 (Encyclopaedia Judaica). They “‘set the stage for other Jewish publication houses and literary works,’ says Dr. Gary Zola. ‘Without a venue for promoting scholarship, literature, and Jewish writing, the Jewish community could not have become a great Jewish center” (Jewish Ascent in America). Singerman 881. OCLC lists 6 copies: National Library of Israel, Princeton, Jewish Theological Seminary, University of Pennsylvania, American Antiquarian Society and the New York Public Library. Institutional inkstamps to title page, front wrapper.
Interior fresh with only lightest marginal dampstaining not affecting text; fragile wrappers with minimal edge-wear. An exceptional copy in about-fine condition.